Helpful Tips

Empowering Autistic Learners: Effective Math Methods with Ice Cream Sticks and Fingers

Child's hand holding pencil over exercise book.

Teaching math using ice cream sticks and fingers is a practical and inclusive approach.

Finding the right approach to teach children with autism is crucial to their success. Let’s delve into two innovative and effective methods for teaching autistic children simple additions using ice cream sticks and fingers. This subject can often pose challenges for them.

However, these approaches aim to make math enjoyable and enhance their engagement with the world of numbers by harnessing the power of counters and fingers.

The methods outlined here also can foster understanding and confidence in mathematical concepts, paving the way for a strong foundation in this crucial skill.

Method 1: Ice Cream Sticks as Counters

Ice cream sticks, those simple wooden objects, can be powerful tools for teaching math to autistic children. They are affordable, easy to find, and provide a tangible, visual representation of numbers and mathematical operations.

This method lets children see and touch the numbers they’re adding. What you’ll need:

  • Ice cream sticks as counters
  • A math workbook with grid pages for answering questions

Start with questions that add up to 20. To help your child understand the concept of addition, ask them to read the questions before solving them.

Have the child verbally count the sticks as they display the counters for the answer. Then, encourage them to write the answer in the book.

Method 2: Fingers as Counting Tools

Autistic children often benefit from tactile learning experiences. Using their fingers as counting tools can provide a sensory-rich experience that enhances their understanding of math.

This method is suitable for questions with a total of less than 100. Ask them to ‘place’ the larger number in their mind and show the smaller number using their fingers.

Then, have them recite the number they have in mind and continue counting with their fingers. This method encourages writing the questions in a grid form (adding across and down). Ask them to read the questions before solving them.

Sometimes, they might be unsure which number to remember and which to help count with their fingers. In this case, guide them with verbal prompts.

Also, they may sometimes forget what to do next. Gently remind them to recite the number in their mind and prompt their number sequencing.

Teaching math to autistic children using ice cream sticks and finger counting is a practical and inclusive approach.

However, teaching math to autistic children requires patience and understanding. Progress may be slow, but consistent effort pays off. Celebrate small victories along the way to keep your child motivated and confident.